Music for Change, Resilience, and Hope in this Season of Spring

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Mar 18, 2024 / 0 comments

In the season of spring, nature reminds us of change, of resilience, of hope.

Spring months see at least two other times which include elements of change, resilience, and hope in their stories: international celebrations of women, and celebrations of Ireland connected with the time of Saint Patrick’s day in mid-March.

All of those come in to the creativity of the musicians whose work you will find below.

In whichever season you may be reading this, may the work of these artists be a good companion to you.

Music for Change, Resilience, and Hope in this Season of Spring

Carrowkeel is a place of stones and tombs which stand above Lough Arrow in the south of County Sligo in the west of Ireland.They have been standing there for about four thousand years, so they have seen a few things.

Alison Brown spent time at Carrowkeel and composed a tune named after the place. It well captures the mystery...and as the tune unfolds, the spirit of those who lived above Lough Arrow in the far past.

You will find the tune recorded on Brown’s album Simple Pleasures. Amog those joining her are Seamus Egan on flute and John Doyle on guitar. You may also wish to see Alison Brown’s recent album On Banjo. You can see and hear Alison play a track from On Banjo in this earlier story from the Music for Shifting Times series.

Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh grew up in the west of Donegal, which is in the northwest of the island of Ireland. There she learned to play the fiddle from her dad, Francie Mooney. She went on to found the band Altan, which has taken Donegal’s music all across the world.

When Mairead’s dad Francie passed away, her friends Ian Smith and Enda Cullen wrote the song Far Beyond Carrickfinn for her, to give her comfort. She sings lead, with backing vocals from Scottish singer Eddi Reader. Part of what Mairead sings

Stars light the way
as your journey begins
my love will run with you
far beyond Carrickfinn.

The men of Altan also back Mairead with words in Gaelic, words Francie wrote. What they sing translates as

A gentle unblemished place---goodbye for now---the echo of your voice on the breath of the breeze

You will find the song recorded on Altan’s album The Widening Gyre.

Aoife Scott and Andy Meaney offer a light-filled story with the song Another Reason. They wrote it as welcome when Aoife’s first niece was born. It serves well as a song of welcome, connection, and celebration for many circumstances. You will find it recorded on Aoife’s album called Homebird.

There are many fine emigration songs, many having to do with Ireland, which has seen a lot of that.

When Seamus Egan was invited to play a festival in Montana, he recalled a story about a relative who had emigrated there in times past. Checking with family, he learned the story, and with his band Solas created the album Shamrock City about Irish people who came to Montana.

One of the songs is Far Amerikay. It is from the the point of view of family who remained back in Ireland. Niamh Varian-Berry is the lead voice.

Landscape is the frame for the song Glenties, as well.

Dublin songwriter Maurice McGrath was remembering the beauty of that area in Donegal when he wrote the song. Irish American supergroup Cherish the Ladies chose to visit the area to record their video for it. Kate Purcell sings lead. You will find Glenties on the album Heart of the Home.

Two cardinals came to sit on the fence in Matt and Shannon Heaton’s garden in Massachusetts. Other birds often come there; cardinals are rare.

“They sat for a long while,” Shannon says, "and then one flew away."

Not long before that, Matt and Shannon, whose work as a duo is with traditional and original Irish music, had heard of the passing of Pastelle LeBlanc, who with her sister Emmanuelle was part of the band Vishten from Prince Edward Island in Canada.

To honor the sisters, Shannon wrote the tune Two Cardinals. Matt and Shannon recorded it on their album Whirring Wings.

Mo Nion O is a song of hope and blessing. It is directed at a child but could work as well for other circumstances and relationships. Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh wrote it in Irish. Cathie Ryan heard the song and thought to put several of the lines over into English. Mairead -- and her daughter Nia for whom she’d written the song-- approved. You will find the song recored on Cathie Ryan’s album Through Wind and Rain.

May this music remind you of the power of resilience and hope in whatever season you may find yourself.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times


Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. 

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road. You can also read her work at Along the Music Road on Substack